Student Spotlight: Clay Hoover '22

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In the dictionary next to the word “well-rounded,” there’s probably a picture of Clay Hoover. 

In addition to being an involved member of the ACES community, Hoover exemplifies the interdisciplinary nature of the program--one that benefits students with a variety of academic interests and career goals. 

“ACES doesn’t line up perfectly with Mechanical Engineering. However, it also doesn’t clash,” Hoover noted. “I think it gives a mechanical engineering student an extra dimension that most mechanical engineering students don’t have, and so in that way it sort of broadens your skill set and doesn’t constrict you to just ME stuff.”

Perhaps it was this edge that helped to prepare Hoover for an internship with ACES’ founding partner Northrop Grumman as only a freshman. 

Through his internship with Northrop Grumman, Hoover gained relevant technical experience, as well as getting a clearer look into how the corporation operates on a day-to-day basis. As a summer intern, he worked on ignitor systems for small arms missile rocket boosters. 

 Notably, in the wake of his internship at the company’s Rocket Center in West Virginia, Hoover already has plans to return to the company in the summer of 2020, this time at their Baltimore branch.

Hoover recognizes his internship as one of the benefits of being an ACES student: “I was able to network through some of the ACES events last year in order to get the internship I had this past summer. As well, just a few weeks ago through some recent ACES events, I was able to secure another Northrop internship for this coming summer.”  

Though ACES has certainly had some hand in molding his professional life, Hoover also cites the Living Learning Program as having significant impact on his personal life.

“So, I honestly think the main way ACES has helped me is it has allowed me to make friends and connections with people that are both helpful in a personal regard--great friends--as well as extremely smart students,” he stated. “Just the LLP in itself is amazing because you’re constantly surrounding yourself with intelligent people, as well as people that are interested in similar things.” 

Hoover felt so connected to the LLP community, in fact, that he currently serves as a Resident Advisor (RA) for half of his own cohort. 

While his leadership role for approximately 30 ACES students in his own academic year can create an interesting dynamic, Hoover ultimately recognizes the good in this opportunity.

“One of the biggest benefits is having a door to get to know people,” he stated. “It’s just a very easy way to get to know people and better your own interpersonal skills because you’re constantly being--for better or worse--thrown into different situations.”

Nevertheless, no experience comes without its challenges, and, in Hoover’s case, he has spent the semester trying to successfully find a balance between his RA duties, his professional obligations, and--in his words--”probably spending too much time playing video games.” 

“Prioritizing is important. It’s easy, especially living in an LLP, to get carried away because you meet so many good friends and so many people who are interested in what you’re interested in,” he revealed. “Slacking off can be a little bit easy, so I think prioritizing, staying focused, and staying true to your goals--realizing what you’re here for and sort of grounding yourself in that way is important.” 

And though Hoover knows that staying focused on his school work and extracurricular involvement is vital, he recognizes the virtue of self-care.

“One way that I stay balanced is I designate time for me, especially on the weekend. I make sure I get time away from work--that way I have time to rejuvenate, collect myself again, and start fresh on Monday,” he noted.

In light of these suggestions, Hoover suggests embracing every aspect of a Living Learning Program--without letting it distract--in order to succeed: “In the LLP, you’re going to have a ton of great resources, a ton of great friends--use that to your advantage. Don’t let it hinder you.”

Published October 30, 2019